A fascinating thread, ladies. I can’t resist adding a little romance, and the story of my engagement ring, and what it means, and has always meant, to both Jim and me.
Jim is a graduate of one of our military academies. Next year he and I will be attending the 50th reunion of his graduating class. The tradition at our military academies is for the engagement ring of a graduate’s intended to be a miniature of his class ring. I have worn Jim’s miniature for 47 years now.
This is far from an empty tradition. It signifies to a new bride that she is marrying not just a military officer, but that she is also marrying the service itself. While wearing that ring she has no excuse for later claiming that she knew not what she was getting into, regardless of the hardships often faced by a military wife. Jim and I, for example, were together for only eight short interrupted weeks of our first two years of marriage. The eldest of our three sons was six months old when he first met his father. This same son had attended very nearly the same number of schools as he had grades when he graduated from high school. Extended separations were the order of the day throughout Jim’s career – that was the particular nature of his duties around the world. You force into the back of your mind the inescapable fear that the separation could so easily become permanent. But I always had my cats to keep me company, and one learns that tears are in order only when he comes home.
My mother wore an engagement ring almost a duplicate of mine for more than 60 years – until her death. My father and Jim were both graduates of the same Academy; their classes separated by 26 years. Given my background as a “service brat” I had less excuse than others for feeling sorry for myself while raising three sons so often without their father. I shall never forget my mother getting Jim and me alone just before our wedding day and saying to Jim, “If she ever complains about what are inevitably going to be your long separations, you give me a call and I will turn Ann over my knee and paddle her good!”
My engagement ring, and that of my mother, will go to my two granddaughters, along with the story of the rings' history and what, together, they meant to their family.
Excuse my typical long-winded post, but this thread brought back memories that I just had to share.
All the very best to you all,